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Facebook caters to businesses, others with separate news feed

The social network's efforts to reduce irrelevant promo posts in the News Feed have sparked criticism from some businesses. Enter a separate "Pages Feed," rolled out today.

Screenshot by Donna Tam/CNET

As Facebook works to keep its users happy by minimizing the number of promotional posts that appear with friends' posts in the News Feed, businesses have asked for a new way to reach fans.

Enter a separate "Pages Feed," rolled out today.

Unlike the standard News Feed, which mixes posts from friends with some posts from promotionally oriented Facebook "Pages" that users have Liked -- and that Facebook's spam filter has deemed relevant -- the Pages Feed is unfiltered and features only the promotional posts. Users can click to it from a button on the left side of their profile page.

Rolled out this morning, the new, separate feed should reach all users by the end of the day, according to a Facebook representative, who said the feed was something businesses with Pages had been asking for.

Facebook is constantly battling spam, which includes Pages updates that the social network's relevancy algorithm thinks users won't be interested in. As Facebook continues to update that algorithm, businesses can see a decrease in users who are seeing their updates.

One solution is for businesses to pony up for a Promoted Post-- a paid post that sidesteps the algorithm and lands at the top of the standard News Feed. That's led to allegations about a connection between the evolving algorithm and Promoted Posts.

Developer -- and Facebook detractor -- Dalton Caldwell called the issue "Like-gate" in his blog. Essentially, some of the people and businesses with Pages thought the social network was purposely lowering the number of users who could see Page updates to encourage the purchase of Promoted Posts.

Facebook says this isn't true -- it hasn't changed its algorithms to make posts less visible or to make people buy Promoted Posts.

The kerfuffle has caused celebrities like former "Star Trek" actor George Takei and tech honcho Mark Cuban to weigh in on Promoted Posts. Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, went as far as to say he's shifting the Dallas Maverick's Facebook efforts to other social networks because he doesn't think he should have to pay $3,000 for a particular post to reach 1 million of the team's accumulated Facebook fans. He tweeted that he's considering Myspace instead.

Choosing Myspace over Facebook? The folks at Facebook probably thought they would never read those words.

The situation highlights Facebook's constant struggle to balance the needs of everyday users with those of businesses and others who tap the social network for promotional purposes. It remains to be seen if a feature like the Pages Feed can quell the grumblings of either group.

Update, 7:10 p.m. PT: This story has been reworked for clarity. No facts have been changed.